Church of Azazel > Rituals > Pentagram
The point-down pentagram
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2009 by the Church of Azazel. All rights reserved.
The point-down pentagram is all-too-often referred to as an "inverted" pentagram. In fact, many different orientations of the pentagram -- point up, point down, point sideways, or tipped at various angles -- are all ancient symbols in their own right, used in many different cultures to mean many different things. One orientation is not an "inversion" of another.
Some of the many meanings of the pentagram, in various orientations, are discussed on a page about The Pentagram: Meaning and History on The Cauldron, one of the more scholarly Pagan sites.
Below are some of the many different historical uses of a point-down pentagram:
- In pre-classical Greece and its colonies, the ancient Pythagorean pentagram was point-down, according to Wikipedia's "Pentagram" article.
- In the fifth century B.C.E., the city seal of Jerusalem featured a point-down pentagram. A relevant archeological artifact is depicted on this page about the pentagram and the Templars, on a website about the Portuguese Order of Christ.
- A rather lopsided point-down pentagram appeared on the seal of the Roman emperor Constantine (the one who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire). A picture of Constantine's seal can be found on the page about The Pentagram in Anti-Masonic claims refuted, on the website of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. (It should be noted that, historically, the point-up pentagram has had plenty of uses as a Christian symbol too, representing the five wounds of Christ, among other things.)
- The Eastern Star, an organization for women relatives of Freemasons, has a point-down pentagram as its symbol, representing five Biblical heroines. Their pentagram is depicted in Wikipedia's "Pentagram" article.
- In Gardnerian Wicca, a point-down pentagram is the symbol of second-degree initiation. (For most other purposes, Gardnerian Wicca uses a point-up pentagram.)
Obviously, the point-down pentagram meant very different things to the very different categories of people mentioned above. But what do the ancient Pythagoreans, ancient Jerusalem, Constantine, the Eastern Star, and Gardnerian Wiccans all have in common?
All are associated with some rising new social and spiritual order. The ancient Pythagoreans played a key role in the rising civilization of pre-classical Greece. Ancient Jerusalem and Constantine both had key roles in the rise of what, for better or worse, eventually became the world's most popular religious tradition. The Eastern Star is associated with the Freemasons, who, in the Enlightenment era, played a key role in the development of modern ideals of religious tolerance. And the modern Pagan/Wiccan community, to which Gardnerian Wicca gave birth, is perhaps the quintessentially modern religion, even though it may like to think of itself as "the Old Religion." Wicca represents spiritual ideals well-adapted to the emerging individualistic social order of the past several decades.
Hence the point-down pentagram can be thought of symbolizing a rising new social and spiritual order.
How and when did the point-down pentagram come to be associated with "evil," and eventually with Satanism? According to About.com's page on the Pentagram - Five-Pointed Star:
Nineteenth century occult groups such as the Golden Dawn held that the point-up pentagram represented the rulership of Spirit over the physical elements, while a point-down pentagram represented the descent of Spirit into matter or matter subsuming Spirit. It is largely this interpretation that led the religion of Wicca to adopt the point-up pentagram and Satanism the point-down version as their representative symbols.
It is initiation or profanation; it is Lucifer or Vesper, the star of morning or evening. It is Mary or Lilith, victory or death, day or night. The Pentagram with two points in the ascendant represents Satan as the goat of the Sabbath; when one point is in the ascendant, it is the sign of the Saviour. By placing it in such a manner that two of its points are in the ascendant and one is below, we may see the horns, ears and beard of the hierarchic Goat of Mendes, when it becomes the sign of infernal evocations. (Eliphas Levi, Transcendental Magic)
It is interesting that Levi associated the point-down pentagram with Lilith. The Church of Azazel sees Lilith as a champion of today's rising social and spiritual order. To a lot of people in the 1800's, when Eliphas Levi lived, today's rising new social order might well seem truly evil -- as it is still perceived by many Christian fundamentalists today.
When Christianity was rising in the West, the point-down pentagram (as well as the point-up pentagram) was one of Christianity's symbols. But now, in a world where Christianity has lost its monopoly, the pentagram in both orientations, especially the point-down pentagram, is now a symbol of the "evil" forces that have been displacing Christianity.
So, the popularly perceived "evil" of the point-down pentagram can be taken as symbolizing popular fears of social change. If the point-down pentagram is associated with rising social orders, then the fear of pentagrams can be taken as symbolizing an old order on the defensive.
In the Church of Azazel's symbolism, the point-down pentagram is associated both with the rising Gods of the modern West, Whom we see as embodied in today's rising new social order, and with Satan/Azazel, Whom we see as a transcendant figure, standing outside of any order, as well as immanent within the world and within our own deepest self.
For details on how we associate the point-down pentagram with the five rising Gods, see Polarities and pentagram points on our page about the rising Gods of the modern West.